By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more

Bench vices

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Blondy_UK20/09/2009 13:08:14
39 forum posts
10 photos
I had a thought the other day about the side that vices are normally fitted to benches.
Front vices are usually fitted on the left hand side as you look at it, and being left handed this makes hand sawing easier for me. Does anyone know why they are fitted on this side and what are the advantages and disadvantages are? I am in the middle of building my bench and would like to know what side is best to fit the vises (end vise and front vise) being left handed.
Paul.
Ron Davis20/09/2009 19:07:46
avatar
1608 forum posts
201 photos
Hi Blondy
 
I always thought that the vice went to the left so that right handed people like me  can plane easily, otherwise we would be standing off the end of the bench.
 
You are the only one who knows what is best for you, I suggest you make a mock up (the kitchen table if all else fails!) and mime some planing and sawing ansd see for yourself what suit you
 
Ron
Woodworker21/09/2009 21:10:27
1745 forum posts
1 photos
74 articles
Hi Blondy,
 
I think Ron has hit the nail there. Having the main front vice on the left side allows the end vice to be situated at the right end. This combination of end and front vice is set up with the right hand woodworker in mind because securing long lengths of timber in place with a series of bench dogs allows a bench plane to be used in the optimum position for a right hander.
 
If you don't use an end vice then I can't see it being an issue for a left handed woodworker.
 
Do you currently use an end vice?
 
Cheers,
Ben 
Blondy_UK22/09/2009 07:26:00
39 forum posts
10 photos
Hi Ben, i don't currently have a bench, i use a makeshift trestle bench made from MDF. I am partway through making a proper workbench but so far have only made the legs and feet. I am still undecided on what to make the top from as the price of hardwood timber is silly now.
 
Beech would be my first choice as thats what i have made the legs out of but i had said about using oak sleepers in earlier posts but was advised about problems with tannin in the wood and the effects it has on metal fixings and tools.
 
As for vices i would like to fit both front and end ones so could put them either end, would it be advisable to fit the front one on the right and the end one on the left. Thanks
 
Paul
Olly Parry-Jones22/09/2009 09:40:52
avatar
2776 forum posts
636 photos
I'd say the biggest problem with using oak sleepers would actually be the moisture content. Assuming these are "new" ones (generally imported from France), they won't be seasoned and will effectively be 'green' oak with little stability. Over time, as the timber dries, they will want to warp, split and crack. To be perfectly honest, the quality isn't that great to begin with. They're generally cut with sapwood, waney-edges and often pith included (hence the incredibly low price!).
 
Beech is generally regarded as a good choice due to price and 'impact resistance' (it won;t dent as easily as pine ). The truth here is that beech is neither the most durable or stable of timbers. Sycamore or maple would be even better for stability, if you could afford then. Then, you may have trouble finding these straight-grained thick enough for your bench top - depending on how thick you require your top? 70mm?
 
Of course, one way to improve stability with beech is to assemble the top from numerous smaller sections - if you want a 70mm thick top then, prepare enough 70mmx45mm (ex. 3"x2") timber and glue them up face-to-face (as opposed to edge-to-edge). Another thing I've noticed is that some firms sell European beech as 'white' or 'steamed'. I honestly don't know what the 'steamed' label means, although it may be worth looking in to; certainly, if it's process to improve the stability of beech...?
 
When I built my 'bench a few months ago, I 'broke tradition'  (as a right-hander) by fitting my front vice on the right and the end vice (two of them, actually; side-by-side) at the left-hand end. I'll admit that planing an edge in the vice is a little awkward some times. A better compromise would've been to bring it closer to the centre, I think... But, I prefer to have the left-hand end 'clear' for planing and find the end vices work better there (for me).
Woodworker22/09/2009 10:18:14
1745 forum posts
1 photos
74 articles
Hi Blondy,
 
Ash is fairly cheap at the moment and an excellent workbench material. Might be worth checking out prices at your local timber yard. I was quoted £29.10 for 25mm stock and £33.30 for 50mm stock (per cubic foot and + vat) the week before last.
 
I would avoid oak because of the tannin issue. Railway sleepers have all sort of nasties imbedded in them (gravel, bits of metal etc.) which are generally bad for tools. Many timber yards refused to resaw them for this reason – they ruin blades very quickly.
 
If at all possible can you try out some different bench styles? That will be the best way of working out what style works best for you. Where abouts are you based? Retailers like Axminster, DM Tools stock benches. Alternatively you could get down to one of the woodworking shows.
 
Hope that helps.
Ben 
Mike Jordan23/09/2009 20:24:28
avatar
153 forum posts
17 photos
Hi Blondy
I agree that the vice should be at the end you find easiest for planing, most left handed woodworkers have to put up with working on a right handers bench, but custom made should be just that.
My bench is the type that has two top cheeks and a well for tools, its quite old and has cheeks made out of 75mm x 15mm softwood. On top of that I use a sacrificial layer of 18mm MDF. This can be replaced or planed down when it gets scarred.
I only got round to asking about "steamed" beech recently, apparently it really is seasoned using steam! the hotter the process the pinker the wood goes. having used quantities of white and steamed beech, I can't detect any difference in quality or stability.
Mike
Blondy_UK24/09/2009 12:18:30
39 forum posts
10 photos
 Thanks OPJ, Ben When given a price per cubic foot would that be for instance 12"x 2"x 6'=1 cubic foot?
 
hi mike, what do you mean by top cheeks? are there any reasons not to make a bench top from a mixture of layered mdf and skirted by solid timber.
Paul.
Woodworker24/09/2009 12:34:27
1745 forum posts
1 photos
74 articles
That's right Blondy. 
Ron Davis24/09/2009 19:08:58
avatar
1608 forum posts
201 photos
One of the problems with oak sleepers is that they may have been treated with creosote. I made a garden wall with some and used it to retail a lawn. I was told by the reclaimers that is is banned for use where it will contact soil used to grow vegetables. Apparently it could cause cancer, which is worrying considering the amount of the horrible stuff I have used over the years
 
Ron
Delete24/09/2009 19:10:05
575 forum posts
You could make the bench so it has a top which can be changed easily. I know we should not drill into it etc but sometines accidents do happen .
Mike Jordan24/09/2009 19:33:34
avatar
153 forum posts
17 photos
Hi Blondy
First of all sorry for the duff information, the size of the top cheeks should have read 75mm x 150mm. Finger trouble again.
I'm not convinced that laminated MDF layers would be strong enough, and it would probably cost more than solid or laminated softwood. The pics below are of my bench which was made from timber that my late father had earmarked for firewood, needless to say i was financially wrecked at the time of making it, having just got married.
The bottom had a cupboard with sliding ply doors originally. The drawer system was added much later, The drawers have handle at both ends and allowed me to load them straight into the van. Each drawer has its own function - plumbing fittings bottom left, electrical tools bottom right etc.
The bench construction follows local joinery practice, and , although its no beauty, for obvious reasons I won't be replacing it.
Hope the pics are of some help.  Mike


 
 
Blondy_UK26/09/2009 10:03:53
39 forum posts
10 photos
Looks sturdy enough Mike, I'm gonna go into my shed today with a pencil and paper and sketch out some ideas of what i want. I have one idea so will work out some measurements and go from there. like i mentioned before, the legs are already made just waiting for some sort of top.

Paul.
Blondy_UK02/10/2009 19:51:51
39 forum posts
10 photos
Just an update on my bench situation, i have made a top for my bench out of some 2"x4" x 6" planed redwood but i am yet to fit the end vice. I have 2 vice screws that i will be using for the end but i haven't got a front vice yet, i have seen one on the Rutlands website http://www.rutlands.co.uk/hand-tools/work-holding/vices---bench/DK2020/9%22-quick-release-vice  It seems to be reasonably priced for a 9"  with bench stop.
Also i will be making some bench dogs for the holes built into the top, i think the bench will be ok until i come across some suitable hardwood to replace the top slab but no hurry now. Would it be advisable to treat or coat the top with poly/varnish or a stain to protect it?
 
Just a few pics of the bench without vices.



Any comments or advice would be helpful thanks.
Paul.
Blondy_UK02/10/2009 19:52:38
39 forum posts
10 photos
Sorry 2"x4"x6'
Paul

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of The Woodworker incorporating Good Woodworking? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find The Woodworker inc Good Woodworking 

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Transwave 2017
Peter Sefton IMPROVE FAST LONG
Felder UK April 2016
Wood Workers Workshop
Triton
Turners Tool Box
Tool Post
Chippendale
D&M Tools
Tormek
D B Keighley
Subscription Offers

Subscribe to<br />    The Woodworker Magazine and receive a FREE gift

Contact Us

We're always happy to hear from you, so feel free to get in touch!

Click here to find who to contact